Python scripts for simulating QM, part 0: A general update

My proposed paper on my new approach to QM was not accepted at the international conference where I had sent my abstract. (For context, see the post before the last, here [^] ).

“Thank God,” that’s what I actually felt when I received this piece of news, “I can now immediately proceed to procrastinate on writing the full-length paper, and also, simultaneously, un-procrastinate on writing some programs in Python.”

So far, I have written several small and simple code-snippets. All of these were for the usual (text-book) cases; all in only 1D. Here in this post, I will mention specifically which ones…

Time-independent Schrodinger equation (TISE):

Here, I’ve implemented a couple of scripts, one for finding the eigen-vectors and -values for a particle in a box (with both zero and arbitrarily specified potentials) and another one for the quantum simple harmonic oscillator.

These were written not with the shooting method (which is the method used in the article by Rhett Allain for the Wired magazine [^]) but with the matrix method. … Yes, I have gone past the stage of writing all the numerical analysis algorithm in original, all by myself. These days, I directly use Python libraries wherever available, e.g., NumPy’s LinAlg methods. That’s why, I preferred the matrix method. … My code was not written from scratch; it was based on Cooper’s code “qp_se_matrix”, here [PDF ^]).

Time-dependent Schrodinger equation (TDSE):

Here, I tried out a couple of scripts.

The first one was more or less a straightforward porting of Ian Cooper’s program “se_fdtd” [PDF ^] from the original MatLab to Python. The second one was James Nagel’s Python program (written in 2007 (!) and hosted as a SciPy CookBook tutorial, here [^]). Both follow essentially the same scheme.

Initially, I found this scheme to be a bit odd to follow. Here is what it does.

It starts out by replacing the complex-valued Schrodinger equation with a pair of real-valued (time-dependent) equations. That was perfectly OK by me. It was their discretization which I found to be a bit peculiar. The discretization scheme here is second-order in both space and time, and yet it involves explicit time-stepping. That’s peculiar, so let me write a detailed note below (in part, for my own reference later on).

Also note: Though both Cooper and Nagel implement essentially the same method, Nagel’s program is written in Python, and so, it is easier to discuss (because the array-indexing is 0-based). For this reason, I might make a direct reference only to Nagel’s program even though it is to be understood that the same scheme is found implemented also by Cooper.

A note on the method implemented by Nagel (and also by Cooper):

What happens here is that like the usual Crank-Nicolson (CN) algorithm for the diffusion equation, this scheme too puts the half-integer time-steps to use (so as to have a second-order approximation for the first-order derivative, that of time). However, in the present scheme, the half-integer time-steps turn out to be not entirely fictitious (the way they are, in the usual CN method for the single real-valued diffusion equation). Instead, all of the half-integer instants are fully real here in the sense that they do enter the final discretized equations for the time-stepping.

The way that comes to happen is this: There are two real-valued equations to solve here, coupled to each other—one each for the real and imaginary parts. Since both the equations have to be solved at each time-step, what this method does is to take advantage of that already existing splitting of the time-step, and implements a scheme that is staggered in time. (Note, this scheme is not staggered in space, as in the usual CFD codes; it is staggered only in time.) Thus, since it is staggered and explicit, even the finite-difference quantities that are defined only at the half-integer time-steps, also get directly involved in the calculations. How precisely does that happen?

The scheme defines, allocates memory storage for, and computationally evaluates the equation for the real part, but this computation occurs only at the full-integer instants (n = 0, 1, 2, \dots). Similarly, this scheme also defines, allocates memory for, and computationally evaluates the equation for the imaginary part; however, this computation occurs only at the half-integer instants (n = 1/2, 1+1/2, 2+1/2, \dots). The particulars are as follows:

The initial condition (IC) being specified is, in general, complex-valued. The real part of this IC is set into a space-wide array defined for the instant n; here, n = 0. Then, the imaginary part of the same IC is set into a separate array which is defined nominally for a different instant: n+1/2. Thus, even if both parts of the IC are specified at t = 0, the numerical procedure treats the imaginary part as if it was set into the system only at the instant n = 1/2.

Given this initial set-up, the actual time-evolution proceeds as follows:

  • The real-part already available at n is used in evaluating the “future” imaginary part—the one at n+1/2
  • The imaginary part thus found at n+1/2 is used, in turn, for evaluating the “future” real part—the one at n+1.

At this point that you are allowed to say: lather, wash, repeat… Figure out exactly how. In particular, notice how the simulation must proceed in integer number of pairs of computational steps; how the imaginary part is only nominally (i.e. only computationally) distant in time from its corresponding real part.

Thus, overall, the discretization of the space part is pretty straight-forward here: the second-order derivative (the Laplacian) is replaced by the usual second-order finite difference approximation. However, for the time-part, what this scheme does is both similar to, and different from, the usual Crank-Nicolson scheme.

Like the CN scheme, the present scheme also uses the half-integer time-levels, and thus manages to become a second-order scheme for the time-axis too (not just space), even if the actual time interval for each time-step remains, exactly as in the CN, only \Delta t, not 2\Delta t.

However, unlike the CN scheme, this scheme still remains explicit. That’s right. No matrix equation is being solved at any time-step. You just zip through the update equations.

Naturally, the zipping through comes with a “cost”: The very scheme itself comes equipped with a stability criterion; it is not unconditionally stable (the way CN is). In fact, the stability criterion now refers to half of the time-interval, not full, and thus, it is a bit even more restrictive as to how big the time-step (\Delta t) can be given a certain granularity of the space-discretization (\Delta x). … I don’t know, but guess that this is how they handle the first-order time derivatives in the FDTD method (finite difference time domain). May be the physics of their problems itself is such that they can get away with coarser grids without being physically too inaccurate, who knows…

Other aspects of the codes by Nagel and Cooper:

For the initial condition, both Cooper and Nagel begin with a “pulse” of a cosine function that is modulated to have the envelop of the Gaussian. In both their codes, the pulse is placed in the middle, and they both terminate the simulation when it reaches an end of the finite domain. I didn’t like this aspect of an arbitrary termination of the simulation.

However, I am still learning the ropes for numerically handling the complex-valued Schrodinger equation. In any case, I am not sure if I’ve got good enough a handle on the FDTD-like aspects of it. In particular, as of now, I am left wondering:

What if I have a second-order scheme for the first-order derivative of time, but if it comes with only fictitious half-integer time-steps (the way it does, in the usual Crank-Nicolson method for the real-valued diffusion equation)? In other words: What if I continue to have a second-order scheme for time, and yet, my scheme does not use leap-frogging? In still other words: What if I define both the real and imaginary parts at the same integer time-steps n = 0, 1, 2, 3, \dots so that, in both cases, their values at the instant n are directly fed into both their values at n+1?

In a way, this scheme seems simpler, in that no leap-frogging is involved. However, notice that it would also be an implicit scheme. I would have to solve two matrix-equations at each time-step. But then, I could perhaps get away with a larger time-step than what Nagel or Cooper use. What do you think? Is checker-board patterning (the main reason why we at all use staggered grids in CFD) an issue here—in time evolution? But isn’t the unconditional stability too good to leave aside without even trying? And isn’t the time-axis just one-way (unlike the space-axis that has BCs at both ends)? … I don’t know…

PBCs and ABCs:

Even as I was (and am) still grappling with the above-mentioned issue, I also wanted to make some immediate progress on the front of not having to terminate the simulation (once the pulse reached one of the ends of the domain).

So, instead of working right from the beginning with a (literally) complex Schrodinger equation, I decided to first model the simple (real-valued) diffusion equation, and to implement the PBCs (periodic boundary conditions) for it. I did.

My code seems to work, because the integral of the dependent variable (i.e., the total quantity of the diffusing quantity present in the entire domain—one with the topology of a ring) does seem to stay constant—as is promised by the Crank-Nicolson scheme. The integral stays “numerically the same” (within a small tolerance) even if obviously, there are now fluxes at both the ends. (An initial condition of a symmetrical saw-tooth profile defined between y = 0.0 and y = 1.0, does come to asymptotically approach the horizontal straight-line at y = 0.5. That is what happens at run-time, so obviously, the scheme seems to handle the fluxes right.)

Anyway, I don’t always write everything from the scratch; I am a great believer in lifting codes already written by others (with attribution, of course :)). Thus, while thus searching on the ‘net for some already existing resources on numerically modeling the Schrodinger equation (preferably with code!), I also ran into some papers on the simulation of SE using ABCs (i.e., the absorbing boundary conditions). I was not sure, however, if I should implement the ABCs immediately…

As of today, I think that I am going to try and graduate from the transient diffusion equation (with the CN scheme and PBCs), to a trial of the implicit TDSE without leap-frogging, as outlined above. The only question is whether I should throw in the PBCs to go with that or the ABCs. Or, may be, neither, and just keep pinning the  \Psi values for the end- and ghost-nodes down to 0, thereby effectively putting the entire simulation inside an infinite box?

At this point of time, I am tempted to try out the last. Thus, I think that I would rather first explore the staggering vs. non-staggering issue for a pulse in an infinite box, and understand it better, before proceeding to implement either the PBCs or the ABCs. Of course, I still have to think more about it… But hey, as I said, I am now in a mood of implementing, not of contemplating.

Why not upload the programs right away?

BTW, all these programs (TISE with matrix method, TDSE on the lines of Nagel/Cooper’s codes, transient DE with PBCs, etc.) are still in a fluid state, and so, I am not going to post them immediately here (though over a period of time, I sure would).

The reason for not posting the code runs something like this: Sometimes, I use the Python range objects for indexing. (I saw this goodie in Nagel’s code.) At other times, I don’t. But even when I don’t use the range objects, I anyway am tempted to revise the code so as to have them (for a better run-time efficiency).

Similarly, for the CN method, when it comes to solving the matrix equation at each time-step, I am still not using the TDMA (the Thomas algorithm) or even just sparse matrices. Instead, right now, I am allocating the entire N \times N sized matrices, and am directly using NumPy’s LinAlg’s solve() function on these biggies. No, the computational load doesn’t show up; after all, I anyway have to use a 0.1 second pause in between the rendering passes, and the biggest matrices I tried were only 1001 \times 1001 in size. (Remember, this is just a 1D simulation.) Even then, I am tempted a bit to improve the efficiency. For these and similar reasons, some or the other tweaking is still going on in all the programs. That’s why, I won’t be uploading them right away.

Anything else about my new approach, like delivering a seminar or so? Any news from the Indian physicists?

I had already contacted a couple of physics professors from India, both from Pune: one, about 1.5 years ago, and another, within the last 6 months. Both these times, I offered to become a co-guide for some computational physics projects to be done by their PG/UG students or so. Both times (what else?) there was absolutely no reply to my emails. … If they were to respond, we could have together progressed further on simulating my approach. … I have always been “open” about it.

The above-mentioned experience is precisely similar to how there have been no replies when I wrote to some other professors of physics, i.e., when I offered to conduct a seminar (covering my new approach) in their departments. Particularly, from the young IISER Pune professor whom I had written. … Oh yes, BTW, there has been one more physicist who I contacted recently for a seminar (within the last month). Once again, there has been no reply. (This professor is known to enjoy hospitality abroad as an Indian, and also use my taxpayer’s money for research while in India.)

No, the issue is not whether the emails I write using my Yahoo! account go into their span folder—or something like that. That would be too innocuous a cause, and too easy to deal with—every one has a mobile-phone these days. But I know these (Indian) physicists. Their behaviour remains exactly the same even if I write my emails using a respectable academic email ID (my employers’, complete with a .edu domain). This was my experience in 2016, and it repeated again in 2017.

The bottom-line is this: If you are an engineer and if you write to these Indian physicists, there is almost a guarantee that your emails will go into a black-hole. They will not reply to you even if you yourself have a PhD, and are a Full Professor of engineering (even if only on an ad-hoc basis), and have studied and worked abroad, and even if your blog is followed internationally. So long as you are engineer, and mention QM, the Indian physicists simply shut themselves off.

However, there is a trick to get them to reply you. Their behavior does temporarily change when you put some impressive guy in your cc-field (e.g., some professor friend of yours from some IIT). In this case, they sometimes do reply your first email. However, soon after that initial shaking of hands, they somehow go back to their true core; they shut themselves off.

And this is what invariably happens with all of them—no matter what other Indian bloggers might have led you to believe.

There must be some systemic reasons for such behavior, you say? Here, I will offer a couple of relevant observations.

Systemically speaking, Indian physicists, taken as a group (and leaving any possible rarest of the rare exceptions aside), all fall into one band: (i) The first commonality is that they all are government employees. (ii) The second commonality they all tend to be leftists (or, heavily leftists). (iii) The third commonality is they (by and large) share is that they had lower (or far lower) competitive scores in the entrance examinations at the gateway points like XII, GATE/JAM, etc.

The first factor typically means that they know that no one is going to ask them why they didn’t reply (even to people like with my background). The second factor typically means that they don’t want to give you any mileage, not even just a plain academic respect, if you are not already one of “them”. The third factor typically means that they simply don’t have the very intellectual means to understand or judge anything you say if it is original—i.e., if it is not based on some work of someone from abroad. In plain words: they are incompetent. (That in part is the reason whenever I run into a competent Indian physicist, it is both a surprise and a pleasure. To drop a couple of names: Prof. Kanhere (now retired) from UoP (now SPPU), and Prof. Waghmare of JNCASR. … But leaving aside this minuscule minority, and coming to the rest of the herd: the less said, the better.)

In short, Indian physicists all fall into a band. And they all are very classical—no tunneling is possible. Not with these Indian physicists. (The trends, I guess, are similar all over the world. Yet, I definitely can say that Indians are worse, far worse, than people from the advanced, Western, countries.)

Anyway, as far as the path through the simulations goes, since no help is going to come from these government servants (regarded as physicists by foreigners), I now realized that I have to get going about it—simulations for my new approach—entirely on my own. If necessary, from the basic of the basics. … And that’s how I got going with these programs.

Are these programs going to provide a peek into my new approach?

No, none of these programs I talked about in this post is going to be very directly helpful for simulations related to my new approach. The programs I wrote thus far are all very, very standard (simplest UG text-book level) stuff. If resolving QM riddles were that easy, any number of people would have done it already.

… So, the programs I wrote over the last couple of weeks are nothing but just a beginning. I have to cover a lot of distance. It may take months, perhaps even a year or so. But I intend to keep working at it. At least in an off and on manner. I have no choice.

And, at least currently, I am going about it at a fairly good speed.

For the same reason, expect no further blogging for another 2–3 weeks or so.

But one thing is for certain. As soon as my paper on my new approach (to be written after running the simulations) gets written, I am going to quit QM. The field does not hold any further interest to me.

Coming to you: If you still wish to know more about my new approach before the paper gets written, then you convince these Indian professors of physics to arrange for my seminar. Or, else…

… What else? Simple! You. Just. Wait.

[Or see me in person if you would be visiting India. As I said, I have always been “open” from my side, and I continue to remain so.]

A song I like:
(Hindi) “bheegee bheegee fizaa…”
Music: Hemant Kumar
Singer: Asha Bhosale
Lyrics: Kaifi Aazmi

Originally published: 2018.11.26 18:12 IST
Extension and revision: 2018.11.27 19.29 IST

Speaking Truth to the Ochros

Two valuable voices have been silenced at the point of the gun, in the 21st century Maharashtra.

First, it was Narendra Dabholkar. Now, it is Govindrao Pansare.

Yes, both of them pretty much had their convictions slanted towards the left. Dabholkar was far more moderate, however. In contrast, Pansare was an explicitly avowed communist. (He was a Marxist.) But you have to put it in the context: he was an Indian communist—he believed in the constitutional means to bring about socialism in India. But, yes, as a quick ball-park estimate, they both certainly were on the left-liberal side.

But how does that justify their murders?

Dabholkar courageously spoke out against the mystic irrationalities prevalent in Maharashtra. He had waged a long cultural battle against superstitions. He, however, was always very careful to differentiate between superstition and religious belief. He had repeatedly made it clear that he had nothing against, say, the common “waarkari,” or against people going to temples/mosques/churches/etc.; he was rather against the deeply mystical and decidedly extremely irrational practices that, some times, wouldn’t even stop short of the human sacrifice.

Sure, the remedy which Dabholkar fought for, was in itself certainly questionable. Speaking of myself, I have not yet been able to convince myself fully that the anti-superstition law for which he worked so hard was either objectively necessary or convincingly effective. In the legal jungle of the kind that we have in India, one is always wary of introduction of yet another piece of legislation—one is apprehensive if it would not simply add more power to the State machinery to harass the innocent citizen.

But does that mean that some one could therefore go and fire bullets at Dabholkar?

Could any one could claim morality on his side if he were to justify Dabholkar’s killing?

It is not all that hard to imagine how, in today’s India, in today’s Maharashtra, at least some must have looked at Dabholkar’s killing approvingly. Yes, the situation is that bad. Though, it emphatically is not all bad. The cultural atmosphere still isn’t gone so down that they would publicly air their opinions, their moral stances.

As to Pansare, I now gather that he had spoken against the recent attempts at glorification of Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s murderer.

That action on Pansare’s part was perhaps what cost him his life.

What have we come to, in India, and, in particular, in Maharashtra?

Have we the Marathis gone so down in our culture that today we not only think nothing of taking the law of the land in our hands and coolly proceed to burn or damage public property, but we now have become also bold enough to make mockery of the very idea of the rule of the law, by killing people whose views we don’t agree with?

OK. Keep the law part of it aside. Think about the morality/ethics part of it.

Is it morally OK to take someone’s life simply because he holds or spreads disagreeable ideas?

Bring it in an even sharper focus:

Is it morally OK to take someone’s life because he holds or spreads wrong ideas?

What kind of morality do the killers illustrate? Their sympathizers?

And, what kind of morality do the people—the ordinary people—who choose to look the other way, display?

First, they came for the Socialists…

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

I know what you are going to say. You are going to object to the colour.

Why associate the ochre with the killer’s morality, you are going to say.

Answer: Precisely because Nathuram Godse’s was a shade of the ochre—that’s why. Nathuram Godse would stand absolutely no chance of being glorified (either today or for the past half-century+ time) if his colour weren’t to be the right shade of the ochre. [Just imagine any other colour for Godse, and see if he would then be glorified in today’s India the way he is.]

That’s why.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

While writing something on these recent happenings in Maharashtra and all, I must also note this: R. R. “Aabaa” is no longer among us. May his soul remain in peace … I don’t have to say anything more about him here because most all the obituaries were eloquent enough. … But surely, he will be very much missed in the Maharashtra politics (and yes, even on the social work side).

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

OK. Let’s have a bit of a breather from all that bad or sad stuff… Too much of it can get depressing, you know…

So, let me note down something on the science side.

I have been browsing through a recent blogging debate about the MWI (i.e. the Many Worlds Interpretation) of quantum mechanics. Sean Carroll once again decided to write something in the defence of the MWI [^], even though what he writes isn’t convincing. The post has generated a lot of comments; do go through them. On the other hand, Roger Schlafly has not only noted his criticism, but also introduced issues like ID (Intelligent Design), here [^]. No, I don’t agree with Schlafly’s criticism either. In the recent past, I have criticized MWI on the philosophical grounds. My position remains the same. Yet, there is something additional about MWI that I had thought I could add, but didn’t. Carroll’s and Schlafly’s posts now provide a welcome opportunity for me to do so. However, I think that I should wait for a couple of days more or so, and let the controversy develop to a fuller extent, so that some further additional angles get thrown up. Also, I would also like to see if someone else, too, thinks of this same point which I have about MWI (the point which I did not mention earlier). … So, there. Give me a couple of days or so, and I will note down my take on the current state of this issue.



How Our Parliamentarians Behave—And Why

There is an excellent article by Professor Dipankar Gupta in yesterday’s Times of India.  An article like this was both timely and necessary.

I hardly watch TV. However, I did watch some part of the debate in parliament on July 22, and was just about wondering whether the kind of worthies that Professor Gupta highlights (the elected members of India’s parliament) should not be crane lifted off the floor of the house and immediately thereafter fully dipped in an adjoining water pool, by way of punishment, if they do not just behave. (Should this fantasy of mine be taken up for implementation, I am willing to be simultaneously both the judge and the crane operator.)

However, despite all the enormously perceptive observations he makes regarding our politicians, I think Professor Gupta fails to hit on the reason that our politicians behave thusly.

For instance, I remember here the n number of “GBM”s we used to have in COEP hostels. “GBM” is the long form of (usually, annually held) General Body Meeting of the student-run hostel mess. At COEP, the student mess consisted of 4 different clubs, each club being run entirely by students themselves. Each club had an elected body of student volunteers to manage all the aspects of running the mess. The clubs would run without any interference from the rectors or wardens. (Remarkable, given that 19 and 20 year old students would run a budget of some Rs. 1.5 lakhs of those times—25 years back—with a rare efficiency.) OK. Enough about the background. The relevant thing here is the GBMs. At GBMs, the meeting agenda mainly used to include presentation of the balance sheet and its approval. Naturally, things such as the appointment of cooks and more importantly, of grocery contractors, the prevailing market rates of vegetables and supplies versus their actual purchase costs, with more than hints of corruption by the mess managers, etc. used to be part and parcel of it all.

Notice, many of these people (the then COEP students) have now come to occupy very responsible positions in our society. They have become, e.g., public sector or government officers, V/Ps and CEOs in MNCs, entrepreneurs, Partners in V/C firms, etc.

Yet, their behavior on the floor of the house during GBMs used to be remarkably different. The entire show used to be very remarkably similar to the usual proceedings in the Indian parliament.

Later on, I came to see something quite similar happen even at the Student Affairs Council (SAC) of IIT Madras. Being watched over a little more closely by the faculty, the proceedings at the SAC were not always as crass as the COEP GBMs, to be sure.

But still, the tendency to be over-emotional in both speech and gestures, with physical posturings of aggression, gesticulations, melodramatics, etc. following every word uttered and every “dialog” rendered, were all present even at the SAC. (For those 1985-86 IIT Madras alumni who now read this, and want to disagree with these observations, please remember the “debate” that had then occurred over whether the house carry out the “censure” motion or not.) At the SAC, the English words being used were, certainly, more sophisticated. The reason is not very difficult to guess either—the words would then be fresh in short term memory, being taken off those GRE verbal guides. Of course, the subtle nuance would not always match, but that precisely is the point under the present discussion. The improper use of the words and the accompaniment of all those emotional dramatics to go with those rather sophisticated words, were very similar to what would happen in Marathi at COEP.

So, not just the largely rural (and Marathi-speaking) population living in COEP hostels, but even the predominantly metro-based student population at the SAC of IIT Madras also displayed a behavior pattern which was very similar to what we just saw last week on the floor of the parliament.

And, whether in parliament, or in the student bodies at COEP or IIT Madras, there always were a few members who preferred to remain plain onlookers. They simply did not get worked up over __any__ thing. And committed to nothing. In principle. And there were few who were influential, but did behave right/properly. And there were some who spoke passionately, and yet, did it just too well. All these kind of people were there too, though they did not define the main behaviour pattern on the floor. Ignoring such people for the time being, however, the question still remains:

Why does the phenomenon of that over-emotional or plain improper kind of behavior seem so wide-spread?

I mean the phenomenon does cut across: (i) age, (ii) educational background, (iii) family background, (iv) IQ, (v) general social sophistication, etc. Not just a third-class-matric-pass half-criminal from the rural areas of one of the BiMaRaU states in his late 50s or 60s, but also the otherwise geeky kind of a bespectacled 20 year old IITian coming from the best English-medium high schools of India also showed remarkably similar behavior pattern—the pattern mentioned above.

Here, Professor Gupta’s explanation does seem to fall short. If so, what is it that can explains this curious phenomenon?

I think the answer could perhaps be found in things like the following: (i) the underlying basic ideas of what a democratic setup constitutes and entails—the mob rule always being a very definite and nearby possibility, in principle; (ii) the subsequent recognition by each “debating” member that it is emotions rather than reason which would truly rule in that kind of a setup (at least to a dominant extent even if not exclusively so); and so (iii) words (i.e concepts, reality) assuming a _subservient_ role to the needs of expressing merely emotionally done up affinities; (iv) the consequent idea that to fail to emotionally over-dramatize is to fail to pull the floor towards one’s own position (whether one’s own position was reasoned one or not being a secondary consideration); and (v) a kind of psychoepistemology that kicks one’s person into everything (action, gestures) which would be required to make “a killing” in that kind of a setup.

I think it is some factors of this kind which could better explain the subject of Professor Gupta.

Of course, the above ideas of mine are not all that well thought out…. I don’t think I really got a good handle on the specific issue.

And yet, I think that what I have jotted above is extremely relevant. I mean, democracy, by itself, only means the rule by the numbers. In such a game, the blind mob rule is a possibility that is never far too behind. That is something which our intellectuals must realize better, i.e., more consistently.

Also, I am sure there is a lot to be said about other subtle ideas too. For instance, the very Indian version of the ideas of altruism in the family and social contexts of the politicians; the very deeply en-rooted and ancient Indian ideas of what metaphysical role can the state (i.e. “Sarkar”—not exactly the government, but the state) have in citizen’s life; etc. I think ideas like such, too play a vital role in creating the “texture” of the kind of discourse we have in our public debates and in parliament. (For instance, just observe the difference of Oprah Winfrey’s Show from, e.g., Barkha Dutt’s “We the People” show, or one of Rajdeep Sardesai’s political debates/shows.)

And still, yes, there are a ton of other points which Professor Gupta so deftly touches on, even in this brief article of his. So, go ahead. Do read it in original if you have not done so already. (And then, perhaps, come back once again here, and read this one once again!!)

Just one passing comment. For quite some time I have tought that Professor Gupta is a curious case. He is a rare “tweed coat” who, despite teaching sociology (of all places, at JNU), manages to remain readable, even reasonable, in a straight-forward kind of way. That’s rare, don’t you agree with me?

I mean, one does not agree with Professor Gupta’s positions many times. But that’s not very important. The important point is: Unlike a whole long queue of socialist academics in the Indian universities, Professor Gupta does often write in a refreshingly observant sort of way. (By way of comparison, pick up virtually any column in “Frontline” e.g., any position on any issue taken by Ms. Jayati Ghosh (or Ghose—I am not sure about the spelling of her name.)) And then, the other side of the typical writers. with globalization and privatization, there has been a new breed of writers who declare themselves to be pro-free-market. But only rarely does their writing acquire depth—the kind of depth which is achieved only with serious thought, the academic rigour (not always a bad thing), a humane kind of concern with the issues being discussed, and an easy kind of “culturedness” (if that’s the word for it). Gupta’s or Swamy’s (of Swaminomics column in ToI) typical writing does show it. Also, sometimes (but far more frequently than is generally acknowledged) the writing and the journalism of Shekhar Gupta does show it. But my concern here is not to create a recommendation list of sorts.

The really important point is this: Today’s India needs such writers—those who can write with depth, but remain readable and understandable by the layman. However, we fall woefully short on the supply of such writers. … Asking IITians to write is not the solution. And neither is asking the IIM graduates to do so.

The job squarely belongs to the humanities professors. … Writing, they have always been doing. The point is, they should begin writing with depth—and with reason.

If the ideas that the humanities department professors keep on advocating begin to be more pro-reason, then, as a matter of a causal law, the society in general and the parliamentarians in particular, will, necessarily, also begin to show a more reasonabe behavior. It’s not all an accident that our best behaved parliamentarians also have been the men who were actually brought up in, or were influenced by, the more pro-reason institutions or universities or cultural backgrounds: Nehru did his university studies at Cambridge; Vajpayee, a university graduate even in his times, spent his early time in newspaper journalism—which is a specifically Western innovation that, by its essential nature, very delicately depends on and facilitates reason; Sharad Pawar was sent right in his university-student days to the UN cultural fora, and is a product of Pune—a city which is distinguished for education (a city which, among other people, had once also produced Namdaar Gokhale, the political Guru of Mahatma Gandhi)…. It also is no accident that our Rajyasabha members are, as a rule of thumb, far better behaved in public and on the floor than are our Loksabha members. In comparative terms (alone), reason has a better chance in Rajyasabha appointments whereas the demos, i.e. the sheer numbers (which, in today’s cultural context, directly translates into blind, emotionalist masses) has a far better chance with Loksabha elections.

Despite what our humanities professors tell us, “democracy,” by itself, means nothing. It requires the cultural context of reason to make its power effective in the direction of social progress. Otherwise, social downfall is the direction in which its powers operate. The behavior shown by the British parliamentarians versus our MPs provides another example of what even an implicit culture context can do on the floor of the house, i.e. if the contrast of our own Rajyasabha vs. Loksabha is not enough.

It’s high time that __a majority of__ our humanities professors began being more pro-reason. Just an exception here and there (especially in the English media alone) won’t do. A majority of them must uplift themselves, completely on their own. There is a social challenge which is growing big __on them__.

(This version: 1.0. I may change the flow of the argument here and there, or change the selection of the words a bit (English _is_ my second language, not first), but the overall arugment here will remain as is.)